Libya completes voter registration
By Essam Mohamed for Magharebia in Tripoli – 24/05/12
More than two million Libyans have registered to vote in the June parliamentary elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur said at a press conference Wednesday (May 23rd) in Tripoli that 2,217,000 voters had registered to cast their ballots for more than 4,000 candidates. Women reportedly represent 48% of this total.
According to Abu Shagur, the government also trained 1,440 election observers to ensure transparency.
Responding to calls to extend an appeal period for aspiring candidates, the official said, "The government, National Transitional Council (NTC) and the High Electoral Commission are keen to hold the election at its scheduled date, in the interest of credibility."
Issa al-Taher of the High Electoral Commission told Magharebia that the registration process was very successful and expressed his hopes for the future. "Libyans are yearning for democracy," he said, "and they want to make the national election a success so that it may be the first block for building the modern Libyan state."
Libyan government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa in his weekly press conference on May 16th laid out procedures the government would use to determine a candidate's eligibility.
"The Electoral Commission confirmed that all names of voters would be referred to the Ministry of Defence to exclude members of the military," he said. "It would also refer all names of candidates to the Interior Ministry to make sure that they don't have previous criminal convictions as per the law, and also to the Civil Status Administration to verify citizenship."
Al-Manaa assured Libyans that the interior and defence ministries were co-operating to secure polling places on Election Day.
Many Libyans look forward to the vote.
Solayman al-Azzabi, a founder of the Liberal Libyan Party, told Magharebia: "We've been missing this experience since the last parliamentary election which was held in 1964 and which was challenged and re-held in 1965. At that time, we were young and we didn't vote." He added that "when you move ahead and don't stop, you'll attain your goals."
"Voters are waiting for Election Day and so are candidates," he noted. "I think that the scene will produce new faces for Libya; something that has been absent in our country."
Regarding the election's outcome, al-Azzabi said: "If it's not fair, we'll go to the judiciary. The Libyan courts are fair and have already proven their presence in more than one occasion under Kadhafi." Meanwhile, he urged everyone to put their fears aside, and said that the Libyan people were enthusiastic about the election.
Our impression of the registration process is positive," said Emad al-Banani of the Justice and Building Party. "There is a great deal of support from average citizens and civil society organisations to make it a success."
Speaking to Magharebia, however, al-Banani did reveal several criticisms of the overall process.
He said the High Electoral Commission made certain mistakes, such as making changes to electoral lists and voting areas six days after the start of campaign. Al-Banani said the commission lacked professionalism.
"Nevertheless, the people understood it," he added. "We in the Justice and Building Party didn't make a fuss about it, even though the new version of the election law was not in our party's favour."
"We're very keen to make this campaign a success because it supports stability in Libya, so we didn't speak up," he said.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.